WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Jury selection is slated to begin Monday for the retrial of a woman accused of having tried to kill herself and her two young children by piping vehicle exhaust into her car in a Pennsylvania bus station parking lot.
Thirty-four-year-old Melissa Ann Scholl is charged with attempted murder in Luzerne County, where jurors in June deliberated for seven hours but were unable to reach a verdict.
Prosecutors allege that she drove the 7-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl to a bus station parking lot in December 2015 and strung a hose from the exhaust pipe to a window. A passer-by pulled the hose from the exhaust and called police.
Prosecutors accused her of a “dramatic, self-centered, narcissistic” murder-suicide plan. First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said she kissed and hugged her children for what she said would be the last time and also texted her mother, saying she planned to kill herself, and then stopped responding as her mother frantically tried to locate her.
Defense attorney Larry Kansky called her actions a cry for help, saying there was no evidence that she wanted to kill her children. He pointed out that the bus driver who found the family testified that the car wasn’t running when he arrived, and her son testified that he heard his mother say she wanted to kill herself but she didn’t want to harm them.
Kansky also noted that the car contained a packed suitcase, pillows and a blanket which were photographed by investigators but disappeared after the vehicle was seized, which he said suggested an attempt to hide possible exculpatory evidence.